"Paint 'em red!" was the solution Sen. Jack Bangerter suggested to the 1988 Legislature to combat the growing AIDS menace.
Rep. Ervin Skousen, R-Salt Lake, suggested AIDS carriers be "tattooed" as a warning to anyone who might come in contact with them.Neither Bangerter nor Skousen will be in the 1989 Legislature (Bangerter is retiring; Skousen was defeated in the primary election). But chances are neither would have found much support for their proposals anyway.
Of the hundreds of candidates for state office, the overwhelming majority of those who responded to a Deseret News questionnaire believe education is the real key to the AIDS problem. And most believe that education should be done both in the home and in public schools.
And that majority of opinion has wide acceptance among all four political parties in Utah.
"Education on sex and drugs is the only answer," said Edward M. Terpening, an American Party state Senate candidate from West Jordan. "I feel we should start drug education in elementary schools and sex education in middle schools."
Helen Weeks, a Democratic House candidate from Orem, believes the Legislature should mandate education programs similar to those suggested by Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, who suggests frank discussions on methods to avoid contracting AIDS, to inform the public.
"I would teach moral standards and I would teach full sex information, including hazards," said Sharon L. Bird, a Libertarian House candidate from Provo. "And I would teach natural healing methods for resistance of disease."
Former Rep. Robert B. Sykes, who is running for his old Salt Lake House seat, added, "People must be aware of the high-risk behaviors that can lead to AIDS exposure and know the ways to prevent them. Some programs in the public schools are necessary as part of the process."
The State Office of Education has approved a curriculum dealing with the AIDS problem. But that curriculum can only teach children to abstain from premarital sex and drugs. Children must have parental approval before any contraceptives or risky lifestyles can be mentioned.
While the majority of candidates advocate a more comprehensive approach to AIDS education, a large number are uncomfortable with any state-sanctioned education program that deals with controversial topics, such as alternative lifestyles and contraceptives.
David W. Howick, a Republican House candidate in the Kearns area, believes education should first be done at home, then through private organizations such as the Red Cross. "When AIDS education is available in the schools, the children must have prior parental consent," he said.
While AIDS education is the area of common concern among candidates, they vary widely on how to address other issues, such as mandatory AIDS testing, confidentiality and who should pay for treatment of AIDS' patients.
Most candidates for the Legislature were particularly sensitive about the issue of civil rights, saying no laws should be passed that discriminate against AIDS patients or hold them up to public ridicule.
"We should be cautious not to put in place programs that violate individual civil rights, destroy their opportunities in the workplace or alienate them from society without well founded facts to guide us," said Max Young, a Democratic House candidate from Murray.
But a large number of candidates say the public's right to protection is greater than the AIDS patient's right to privacy.
"The rights of people to not be unnecessarily exposed to health hazards exceed the rights of people with AIDS," said Calvin Black, a Republican Senate candidate from San Juan County.
And if increased awareness and education are not successful, "We are going to have to look at some form of quarantine similar to the isolation of tuberculosis victims in the early 1900s," said Bob Anderton, a Democratic House candidate from the Taylorsville area.
Incumbent Pat Nix, R-Orem, said AIDS victims whose abusive lifestyles promote the disease should not look to Utah's working families for relief.
And, said Harold Christensen, an American party House candidate from Salt Lake, "government programs to protect people from their own folly, stupidity and lack of morals are an insult to the intelligence, except in cases of innocent victims who deserve the utmost consideration."
Added Rep. David Ostler, R-Salt Lake, "Except for a very small percentage of the population who get the disease while being born of a diseased mother or by receiving tainted blood, this disease can be considered to be essentially self-inflicted. Therefore, I do not believe the state should invest huge sums of health care funds to prolong the life of AIDS patients."
But an equal number of candidates preferred a more moderate approach.
"We need to develop a comprehensive AIDS policy to protect the public and the victims," said Rep. Kim Burningham, R-Bountiful. "Adequate rules of confidentiality need to be insured, at the same time that we enact policies that allow for public protection and even mandatory testing in certain instances."
"I believe that the public has a right and obligation to control contagious diseases of all kinds, including AIDS," said House Majority Leader Nolan Karras, R-Roy. "This right and obligation includes disclosure to certain health professionals who risk exposure."